InFamous Second Son review: one giant leap

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If you’ve played the previous inFamous games you’ll remember electric hero conduit Cole MacGrath. You’ll know that while the first game was amazing and innovative, the second one continued the story, but gameplay was same-same, ho-hum.

Infamous: Second Son takes places seven years after inFamous 2. The Department of Unified Protection has been formed to hunt down and capture or destroy conduits by any means possible.

Second Son (understandably if you’ve played the others), gives us an entirely new protagonist, Delsin Rowe, who obtains conduit powers by means of a freak accident. Although his initial powers are smoke and fire based, as he defeats other conduits he is able to channel additional powers, and like the previous games, you have the ability to choose between a good and evil path, earning the praise or the fear of common citizens.

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The overall theme and vibe of Second Son is distinctly oppressive, especially in comparison to Cole MacGrath’s world. Rather than saving the world from roaming gangs intent on controlling territory, the government is taking control and spreading propaganda wherever they go. In fact, half the game is spent breaking the stranglehold that they have on different parts of Seattle, and defeating the D.U.P. through an ultimately repetitive series of boss battles.

And when I say repetitive, I mean to a certain extent that they’re formulaic. Track down the D.U.P. secret agent, tag the walls with graffiti, destroy the cameras tracking your movements, all of these free the district from governmental control, and ultimately kick-start a boss battle with hefty enemies. Although it is formulaic, this doesn’t mean it’s not fun. In fact the difficulty curve of Second Son is in many ways better than both previous inFamous games. Enemies and challenges get progressively harder, and this game will provide a good challenge on any level of difficulty.

The skills tree is definitely more developed than the previous games, allowing for good skills development throughout the game. Don’t make the mistake of levelling up just a single aspect of it either, as at some point you’ll need to make use of every trick you can conjure. In order to level up, much like you did with Cole, you’ll need to collect blast shards. These can be found in the drones that roam the city, tracking your movements and keeping tabs on you. Shoot them down and collect the shard that powers them.

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Second Son reminds me of a combination of inFamous and Prototype (the original one, not the shit second one). The way Delsin moves around the city, especially in the first part of the game when he predominantly has smoke powers, is incredibly reminiscent of Prototype, as you fly (or drift rather, you can turn into smoke after all) from building to building using your powers. Even more fun, you can zoom up buildings by turning yourself into smoke and being propelled through air vents, which provide a much quicker method of reaching the top of a building rather than tediously climbing it.

Overall the controls are intuitive to use, with the exception of the touchpad, which seems like a tacked on addition that isn’t strictly necessary. Of course I’ve neglected to mention that this is a PS4 exclusive, and so the obvious question would be, “Does this showcase the capabilities of the PS4?” Well yes and no. Visually this game is beautiful! Water reflects light realistically, there are no jagged edges or antialiasing, movement is smooth, there’s no lag whatsoever, but it doesn’t really feel like a next-gen game. It feels like a game that was made for a stronger computer than the old one you had. Yes it looks good, but there’s nothing that makes you sit back and think, “This is next gen!”

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That said, I have no doubt that if I placed it side by side with the previous inFamous games, they would look dated by comparison.

To be honest, my major criticism lies in the karma mechanic of the game. Although it’s something we’ve come to expect from the inFamous series, it’s poorly developed, and that is never so glaringly obvious as in this third iteration of the franchise. It’s shallow, allowing for very clear-cut good vs evil choices, when the complexities of the choices could actually be far greyer in nature.

Nutshell: Second Son is a worthy addition to the franchise, and is in fact a huge leap forward in terms of gameplay and storyline, presenting us with a character that is less bravado and gruff brawler, and more insecure and rebellious character that’s angry at the world. Delsin’s character can be somewhat annoying at times, but at the same time his rebellious nature is charming and as the underdog in the story that is going up against the government, you can’t help but root for him.



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